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  • Writer's picturePaul LaLonde

Paul, Where Have You Been?

“Sometimes, even to live is an act of courage.” – Seneca

I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I hope you can forgive me. I’ve been going through a lot of personal and professional obstacles lately. Not all obstacles are bad – in fact – many are signs from the Universe that point us in the direction we need to head.

But we all have our limits. I just have not had the energy or drive to write lately. I mean, I want to, but just haven’t figured out how to overcome my writers funk malaise.

Tied to a lot of this has been the untimely death of my younger brother. It’s hit the family hard. We’ll be OK. Everyone eventually is, but when? Just keep swimming…

However, I did want to announce several big developments that have been exciting me. I hope that by sharing these things, it helps reinvigorate me to some degree and give me a kick in the behind to continue writing… it’s what I like to do, and I think I am fairly good at it!

So, what has Paul been up to??? Here are some BIG announcements from my incredibly teeny tiny barely there corner of the universe!

Real Talk and Big Ideas Series – September 14, 2021

As a nonprofit professional my entire career, I’ve been a friend of Northern Illinois University’s Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies for many years now. The Center prepares future nonprofit leaders by giving them the real-world skills and knowledge to balance their academic theory. On September 14th, I will be discussing Human Resources in the nonprofit sector during the lunch hour. My hope is to provide students with some great advice and real-world scenarios they can take with them on their journeys! This is a free virtual event being held via Zoom and is open to all. Register for this free virtual event here:

Philosopher Manager Series

This is one I’m so very excited to announce! It’s been a labor of love for a long time now. I am partnering with the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership, a program within the DeKalb County Community Foundation, to present the Philosopher Manager series!!! Influenced by Plato’s Philosopher King, the idea of the Philosopher Manager is one I have been building for almost 15 years. I am incredibly grateful to bring the idea to life in a three-part series with the DCNP!

The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said philosophy is for everyone. It’s about living your best life and acting on what is right. I firmly believe all leaders need philosophy, and most leaders are philosophers without them likely knowing it! Plato felt that the best kings would be philosophers. What if we took this approach to management? The Philosopher Manager would be free from the corruption of power, knowledgeable yet humble, and able to live in accordance to their inner worth, not their status at a company. I am so proud of this series, and hope you can join in! More info and FREE registration here:

Disrupt HR STL 4.0

I’ve had the honor of presenting at several conferences, but I have never spoken to an HR conference. Well that all changes on September 22nd! I have been given the green light to promote the event, though official announcement is yet to come, but I am speaking at Disrupt HR St. Louis 4.0!!! I will be discussing the power of social media in the profession, and I am incredibly excited. I also must admit. I. Am. TERRIFIED! This event is so radically different from other HR Conferences! If you’re unfamiliar with Disrupt HR, it’s a one-day event where presenters speak fast and furious! 20 slides advancing every 15 seconds. The fact that I am terrified is the signal I needed to know this was something I needed to do. So, if you’re in the greater St. Louis area, I hope you stop by! People can register here.


Speaking of HR Conferences…. The Wisconsin State Council SHRM is recently introduced their inaugural Social Media Influencers Leading Engagement program! Modeled after the SHRM National Blogger Team (now known as the Influencers Team), the WI SHRM SMILE Team has been created to provide attendees and potential attendees with social media content to inform, energize, and engage followers to virtually connect with their upcoming State Conference.

Content will include speaker interviews, exhibitor highlights, tips for attendees, and live conference updates.

As an alumni of the SHRM Blogger team, I am excited to be a part of this year’s inaugural WI SHRM “SMILE Team!” The full team also includes two of my best friends Mary Williams, SPHR and Jeff Palkowski, MHRM, SHRM-SCP, PHR! We will begin providing content in the coming weeks leading up to and through the WI SHRM State Conference held both in-person and virtually, October 13-15, 2021. Follow WI SHRM on the following social media platforms:

You can also follow the 2021 WI SHRM SMILE Team on LinkedIn and Twitter at:

Paul LaLonde -LinkedIn – -Twitter –

Mary Williams -LinkedIn – -Twitter –

Jeff Palkowski -LinkedIn – -Twitter – Follow the conference hashtag: #WISHRM21 on each platform for information about the 2021 WI SHRM State Conference. If you would like to attend the WI SHRM State Conference, please visit:

Professor LaLonde, Well, kinda…

My first job out of grad school may actually surprise you. It wasn’t in HR, or even as a manager in nonprofits (those both came later). It was actually as an adjunct professor! I graduated during the Great Recession, so jobs in my chosen field were scarce. I needed SOME sort of income, so I reached out to an old friend – a professor of history at my alma mater – Joliet Junior College. He helped me get a position as a part-time adjunct teaching political science. I LOVED it and taught regularly at JJC for the next six years. Thankfully, most of my students liked me, too! Don’t believe me? Look, I’m on “Rate My Professor!”

Unfortunately, a promotion and a move necessitated I give up adjunct teaching. Thankfully, a job switch and another move meant I could get back in the game! So, I am happy to announce that after speaking with the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at JJC, I am once again a College Professor (adjunct, that is). I get to teach political science 101, which is something I think many folks need these days… Regardless, I love learning. I love the classroom. It’s the one place I feel 100% at home, and I am excited to return to this part of my life.

People Operations

Finally, I recently announced that CEDA’s HR Department is making the evolutionary shift to People Operations!

It’s made it no secret that I am deeply influenced by Lars Schmidt’s book, Redefining HR: Transforming People Teams to Drive Business Performance.

This book is a masterpiece of HR thought leadership, and I am not being hyperbolic! Schmidt perfectly captures the zeitgeist that is upon the HR community. He uses real world testimonials and scientific data to back up his theories and ideas.

Over the past decade plus, Schmidt argues, there’s been a fundamental shift in what the HR function does. This shift is best described as “Legacy HR” vs. “Modern HR” and can be described as such:

Legacy HR:

  1. Elaborate programs with them as gatekeeper of corporate decisions.

  2. Needlessly complex processes, forms, policies.

  3. Go to HR when you’re in trouble.

  4. “That’s the policy.”

  5. “You need to file this form before we can process.”

Modern HR:

  1. Refocus on the “people.”

  2. Common sense programs supporting an environment where employees can do their best work.

  3. Go to HR when you need strategic support and guidance – strategic thought partners.

  4. Solutions based ideas – get to “yes” unless it’s illegal or stupid.

  5. Analytics – DATA driven.

To reflect this change, many organizations have been rebranding HR. In many instances, the move has coincided with an overall more strategic push towards people centered organizations/departments.

Why are organizations doing this? The HR stereotype is that this function is for hiring and firing, getting payment and rewards information, and enforcing rules and policies. The name “human resources” gives the impression that people are resources to be harvested as a tool for production. Employees feel expendable, just another worker in a long line of cogs on the company conveyor belt.

The name “People Operations” is very meaningful to me, and I did not recommend this change lightly for CEDA. People Ops showcases that our PEOPLE at the Agency are a priority. I’ve made it a point for the People team to focus less on compliance and more on the overall employee experience, so that each person can realize and maximize their own potential. Without our folks, our mission will never be fulfilled at CEDA!

This isn’t just an idea or fancy words – CEDA is striving to mean it, and I’ve tried backing that up, as has my entire team! HR is part of the work; People Ops is the approach to the work. I am very excited to be a change agent for good in the HR field! Thank you Lars, and so many other though leaders from whom I have been deeply influenced. Without the Steve Brownes, Laurie Ruttimans, Jennifer McClures, and so many more, the HR field would be stagnant and unmoving.

So, that’s what I have been up to that has kept me from blogging… well, at least some of the things! Hopefully, I find my way from the fog in my mind to write more often. Either way, you know where to find me if you just want to say hi!

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